Of what use is a mobile?

Communication, yes, but overdoing it can lead to a serious case of addiction

Updated - March 19, 2023 02:12 pm IST

Published - March 19, 2023 12:38 am IST

Glued to the phone round the clock.

Glued to the phone round the clock. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Recently, I had been admitted to hospital in four contiguous episodes. During my recovery, I had to engage a care provider. A relatively competent person, he had one weakness — you may call it an addiction — which got our goat. All his waking hours, he was stuck to his mobile phone or its headphones plugged to his ears. It interfered with the satisfactory delivery of his otherwise competent services. We tried our best to reform him, but to no avail.

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I grew up at a time when a phone was a rarity and curiosity. Those who happened to have acquired it, never tired of making a show of it. It required not only pelf but also power to get hold of one. I remember a story which my father never tired of telling. A gentleman, after a lot of effort, finally got a landline connection. To impress visitors, he got into the habit of picking up the receiver and talking into it with nobody listening at the other end. One day, when a person showed up, he repeated the same ritual. When he had pompously put the receiver down after some time, the visitor said that he had come from the telecom department to activate his telephone connection. However since apparently someone else had already done it, he made to turned around and leave. The rest was not only history, as they say, but also psychology and economics.

In those days, making an inter-zonal (inter-city or inter-State) call, known as a trunk call, was a big deal. I remember spending considerable time taking turns with my father waiting for the call at the local post office. It had to be done in a project note, with considerable planning, and that too during emergencies only.

The normal mode of communication was the ubiquitous hand-written letter, using various alternatives provided by the post office namely, a postcard, an inland letter and an envelope (with express delivery option). There was no question of instant communication, which the mobile and the email today facilitate. The frequency of communication was also dictated by the options then available. I recall that when I left home to join the university and the service later, I used to write one letter per month and also received one accordingly or even somewhat later.

I have had access to a mobile phone for quite some time now, maybe for close to 25 years, but I have not yet exploited its full potential or, shall we say, used it optimally. I use it to communicate with my friends and relatives mostly when the need arises. After my recent encounter with the care provider with the mobile addiction, it dawned upon me that I can use the mobile to get in touch with my acquaintances at will. One day I rang up my grand old friends of yore, maybe after a gap of almost a couple of years. One of them was getting ready to go out and conveyed that he will call back later. The other one, after the initial weather talk, said that he had arrived at the venue of some function and will talk in due course.

Maybe I should write letters to both of them and wait for a reply, though a longish letter received by me a couple of years ago is still waiting to be read. Godspeed.

The author can be contacted on vkagnihotri25@gmail.com.

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